May 23 “Lightning”

Lightning

An electrical charge high in rain-laden clouds builds as contrary winds torment each other.
When a cloud can hold no more electricity, the charge jumps, sometimes to another cloud and sometimes all the way to the ground. Objects too close feel the power. Positive and negative forces are balanced again, for a while.

So it is in a storm and so it is in history. Evil accumulates in the hearts of men as they ignore their Creator and live only for themselves. Nations do this, too. Israel always had enemies, like storm clouds, threatening their borders. When the negative forces became so great, the pagan hordes invaded the holy places and sacrificed unclean animals in the Holy Place. In the language of prophets, this was called “The Abomination of Desolation.”

Like the contrary winds in a terrible storm, this stroke of lightning required more than the evil of pagans; it required the apostasy of God’s people, a great falling away. This was what was meant by “desolation.” Pagan sacrifices outside of the city were an abomination—a deep offense to God. When these profane sacrifices were made in the house of God—that was desolation.

It had happened before and Jesus warned that it would happen again. Not one stone of the beautiful temple would be left standing. In AD 70, the Roman general leading this siege was Titus, himself destined to reign as Caesar. The Roman army broke through the gates, sacked the city, and burned Herod’s Temple. The warnings in Jesus’ words applied to those hearing Him who would experience this abomination of desolation. It would result in the diaspora of the Jews—exiled to wander through the earth until God restores them to the Land of Promise. That happened in 1948.

Another Tribulation
The words of Scripture can have more than one application. The warnings of Jesus in this passage have a meaning for our day as well.

  • The first thing we must learn from these passages is this: True worship brings God’s protection and false worship brings destruction. The promises of God are Covenantal promises, that is, they are conditional. If we will do our part; God will do His part.
  • The other thing we must learn is that another tribulation period is coming. There will be a great falling away and the love of many shall wax cold. Worship will no longer be in spirit and truth, but in the flesh and in lies.

In these end-times a contrary wind will also blow from God. As He did at Creation, the Spirit of God will move upon the earth. A great wind of the Spirit of God will counter the evil winds of the abomination. Never has such a conflict been seen on the earth. The Gates of Hell will put the Church to siege, seeking to ruin our worship and thus break our covenant of protection with God.

The Great Outpouring
As the Spirit is poured out, our sons and daughters shall prophecy. There will be signs and wonders because Jesus Himself walks among us with healing in His wings. We will be caught away from the worst of this Tribulation to feast with the Lord until suddenly, like blinding lightning, Jesus will appear with 10000 of His saints to right all wrongs and establish His peace.

So let us worship in spirit and truth so we can be ready when the trumpet sounds!

Scriptures:
Matthew 24:15-28
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NKJV
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Revelation 22:20 NKJV
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me be true to my Covenant with You! It is a New Covenant in Your blood. I will worship in Spirit and in Truth. I will tell Your story to one and all. I will live a holy life by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I will not participate in the Great Falling Away but I will seek the great Outpouring of Your Spirit. I want to hear that trumpet and that angel shout. I want to join You and my loved ones in that meeting in the air! Amen. Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

Song:
Hasten Thy Glorious Coming Lord
Words and Music: Oren E. Munger

1. Christ’s coming now is nearing, Blest day of His appearing,
This tho’t my heart great joy affords;
Millions around are sighing, For this release are crying,
“Hasten Thy glorious coming Lord.”

Refrain:
Jesus is coming soon, coming I know, Coming His glorious bride to claim;
With raptrous hearts we’re waiting, To Join that grand translating,
“Hasten Thy glorious coming Lord.”

2. Sorrow and sin prevaileth, In pain the earth travaileth,
Darkness abounds in ev’ry land;
But in earth’s darkest hour He’ll come in mighty power,
“Hasten Thy glorious coming Lord.”
Refrain

3. He warns us to be watching, Praying and always ready,
We do not know the day nor hour;
Are you your heart preparing, Ascension robes now wearing,
Washed in the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb?

Refrain

4. So when the trumbet soundeth, And He from heav’n desendeth,
To claim the church, His spotless bride:
With boundless joy we’ll greet Him, As we arise to meet Him,
“Hasten Thy glorious coming Lord.”

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

February 16 “Readiness”

Readiness

Inevitable things will come. We cannot stop them but we can be ready.
The observation point high on the Mount of Olives afforded a stirring view of Jerusalem and the Temple. Jesus and the Twelve had just left the Temple, exited the city gates, and ascended to this point on the mountain. Such sights prompted questions about the future Jesus predicted. So far His answers had not been encouraging. It would get worse before it got better.

The Prophet Daniel
The Prophet Daniel wrote on a grand scale. His work concerns nations and epochs of time. So much so, that several historical events can be linked to just a few of His words. One of those terms is “The Abomination of Desolation.” This prophecy was a familiar one to the Twelve. Literally it speaks to a terrible event, an abomination, that brings about total destruction, desolation. It is a direct reference to the worship of Jehovah in the Temple.

The worship of God is so holy it can be readily spoiled by impure hearts and sinful hands. Beyond the personal failures of those who go through the motions of worship is the abomination of idolatry. The history of Israel was plagued by periods of apostasy in which people would worship idols made my men rather than their Holy, Covenant-keeping God. These false worship systems were usually established on high places far removed from the Temple. But there is never any way to hide idolatry. The judgement of God, promised by the words of the Covenant, always fell on the nation for her idolatry. Pagan nations conquered them time and again. God sent holy prophets, faithful priests, and reformer kings to restore true worship.

The Abomination of Desolation goes beyond these seasons of apostasy. Instead of illicit worship sites in the countryside, this idolatry takes place in the Temple itself. Pagan armies invaded the city and the Temple to set up their idols in the Holy of Holies. This abomination destroyed the Covenantal relationship with God and resulted in the desolation of the city and the slavery of the nation.

It had happened before.
Each of the Temples where God Almighty chose to dwell among people ended in this type of destruction. The repeated cause? False worship—idolatry in the house of God. At the moment when Jesus and the Twelve were taking in the exalted view of the Temple and the city, there was a false hope of the appeasement of Rome with a puppet king and an established routine of the external trappings of worship. This provided an aura of hope but it was a false hope.

It would happen again.
The disturbing warning of Jesus was that all of this beauty would crumble in violence and it would happen soon—in the lifetimes of the Twelve. They must be prepared. They must be in a state of readiness.

It did happen with the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Roman armies 66-70 A.D. This abomination would destroy Old Covenant worship. At the same time, it would scatter the followers of Jesus throughout the known world. He would go with them. His Spirit would empower them. Through their lives a new Temple would be built, not of stone, but of flesh, a new habitation of God by His Spirit—the Church! The Church triumphant will take root in every culture and race making the Kingdom of God one Holy nation.

It is the duty of every generation to live in a state of readiness.

Scriptures:
Mark 13: 14-23
“So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.
Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 NKJV
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You know what the future holds; I do not. I trust You with it. I realize that my job is to be ready for whatever comes. I want to be ready in prayer, in adoration of You, in witness to Your amazing grace and in personal holiness. You have called me to serve You in these last days. To be ready for tomorrow is to serve You today. Help any fear I may have of tomorrow become faith in You for tomorrow. You are already there, Lord Jesus! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Jesus Is Coming Soon
Words and Music: R.E. Winsett

1. Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear;
Freedom we all hold dear, now is at stake.
Humbling your heart to God, saves from the chast’ning rod.
Seek the way pilgrim’s trod. Christians awake!

Refrain:
Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon;
Many will meet their doom; trumpets will sound.
All of the dead shall rise; righteous meet in the skies;
Going where no one dies, heaven-ward bound.

2. Love of so many cold; losing their home of gold;
This in God’s Word is told; evils abound.
When these signs come to pass, nearing the end at last,
It will come very fast; trumpets will sound.

Refrain

3. Troubles will soon be o’er; happy forevermore,
When we meet on that shore, free from all care.
Rising up in the sky, telling this world goodbye;
Homeward we then will fly, glory to share.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.